Release Notes: Improved helpdesk notifications

Release Notes: Improved helpdesk notifications

Come hack transparency with us every Tuesday night

Edited by Beryl Lipton

Last week, we rolled out a couple improvements related to communications, including giving you a helpdesk ticket number when you email in or use the “Get Help” button. We also implemented some changes to help improve onboarding in the future.

For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like to get a list of site improvements every Tuesday - along with ways to help contribute to the site’s development yourself - subscribe to our developer newsletter here.

Site Updates

Help desk notifications

Over the last year, we’ve done a lot to consolidate our helpdesk operations, including a unified support desk that spans all of our services and a reduction in the number open tickets of about 80 percent. But we also know we can do better, particularly with how we communicate with users about the status of their tickets and providing resources more quickly to help you get back to filing.

So last week we took a small but hopefully valuable step, providing a confirmation email when we open up a new ticket for you, whether it’s because you email in or use the Get Help button on a page. Here’s what the confirmation looks like:

A screenshot of a confirmation email

We’re going to keep tweaking how we manage these communications, so if you have ideas for how we can improve please let us know — you’ll even get a confirmation that we’re on the case when you reach out.

More flexible triggering for email notifications

This isn’t a feature that will make an immediate effect, but we recently configured our email system to be more flexible in how we can send messaging based on the actions you have recently taken on the site.

Our goal is to provide useful resources when you need them — letting you know the next steps in the process after you file your first request, for example, or helping you craft the perfect language if it looks like you’re stumped with a draft request.


We’ll be rolling out these notifications slowly. We know what it’s like to get too much email, so we want to send only materials that are useful. If you’ve got questions or wish we provided resources that you haven’t seen on the site yet, let us know!

Come hack transparency with us

Every Tuesday night, we gather in Cambridge with a group of coders, designers, and others who want to see more open government. Over the past few months, we’ve been mixing MuckRock’s agency database with a set of scanners and scrapers to help gauge the accessibility, mobile-friendliness, and security of America’s digital infrastructure.

You can find out more and join us by checking out Code for Boston’s website.

Reporting bugs and submitting fixes

There are a number of other ways to help us continue to improve the core MuckRock site experience. We have a project and a weekly newsletter, “Release Notes,” that highlights everything we’re working on. Register to get a summary of site updates each week and details on open issues that need your help.

Check out some of our issues labeled “help wanted” for ideas on good places to start or just pop into our Slack’s #Developers channel.

Subscribers to the weekly newsletter get exclusive data sets, FOIA-related scripts, and other transparency hacker tidbits only available for subscribers. You can subscribe to the newsletter at the top or bottom of this page.

If you spot a bug or have a feature request, you can also help by opening an issue on GitHub.

If you do, please search open issues first to make sure it hasn’t already been reported. If it has been reported previously, please leave an additional comment letting us know it’s an issue for you, particularly if you can provide more details about when it crops up or what you think is causing the problem.

In addition to the new newsletter, we have a developer channel on the MuckRock Slack.

Image via Wikimedia Commons